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Japan enacts bills to protect “wagyu” genetic resources

  • April 17, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 1:45 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, April 17 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s parliament Friday enacted two bills to boost the protection of fertilized eggs and sperm of “wagyu” Japanese beef cattle, which is popular in and outside the country.

 

The bills were approved unanimously at a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, the country’s parliament. Both passed the House of Representatives, the lower chamber, early in April.

 

One is aimed at preventing unfair competition over livestock genetic resources, regarding genetic resources that have gone through improvements as intellectual property.

 

It stipulates a fine of up to 10 million yen or a prison term of up to 10 years for individuals who illegally take such resources abroad.

 

The legislation will also allow intellectual property rights owners to request court injunctions if businesses that have acquired such resources engage in resale violating contracts between the two sides.

 

Meanwhile, those working on artificial insemination of wagyu cattle will be obliged to keep records of the transfers of their wagyu genetic resources under the revised law on the improvement and increased production of livestock, the other enacted legislation.

 

Through the move, Japan hopes to manage the distribution of such resources thoroughly.

 

Both measures are set to take effect around autumn this year.

 

In 2018, a large amount of fertilized wagyu eggs and sperm was nearly smuggled into China.

 

Responding to farmers’ requests for measures to tackle such smuggling, Japan’s agriculture ministry decided to beef up related regulations.

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